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Can you read the whole Bible in one year? Yup. But here are some things to keep in mind. April 24, 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "Can you read the whole Bible in one year? Yup. But here are some things to keep in mind. April 24, 2013."— Presentation transcript:

1 Can you read the whole Bible in one year? Yup. But here are some things to keep in mind. April 24, 2013

2 Who wrote it? When? Who was it written for? Why do people disagree so much about what it says? Why is it so full of contradictions? What’s the deal with God in the Old Testament? Is it factual? Is it historical? Is it metaphorical? Why are there so many gruesome stories? Why are there two testaments? Who chose what books made it into the Bible? What books didn’t make it in? How close is our version to the original? If it was written for the ancient world, what good is it today?

3 Versions of the Bible For most of history, most people did not read the Bible. They listened to a Latin version of it. Books were rare and literacy was low Started to change with reformation Luther’s German version and King James Version become normative Today there are dozens of versions: KJV, NRSV, NIV, The Message, New American, Good News, etc Translation is interpretation GET ONE WITH GOOD NOTES!

4 How has the Bible been read? Origen, 3 rd C., said it could be read literally, morally and allegorically Allegory was deepest reading. It opened up meaning and metaphor This view dominated interpretation for most of the next 1300-1400 years Whether or not details were factually accurate was not an issue. That level was just assumed Meaning was far more important

5 How has the Bible been read? People didn’t argue about the details so much as the meaning of the story they supported Miracles didn’t require a leap of faith because they weren’t articles of faith Miracles were just part of the background of the way people perceived reality Meaning of stories resided on this background like paint canvas

6 Enlightenment Changed This Enlightenment elevated reason as primary lens by which many things, including religion, were viewed This brought tremendous benefit to science, medicine, history, role of the individual But it often stripped out allegorical/metaphorical meanings out of the Bible The factuality and historicity of stories grew to become the most important parts and in the process the meaning of stories was often lost

7 Higher Criticism and Fundamentalism In 19 th century higher criticism began literary, textual, historical analysis, linguistic analysis etc, to take deeper look at Bible texts Conservative Christianity responded, ironically, with tools of enlightenment to defend itself Sought certainty and a literal, formulaic, historical reading of the Bible “Reduced” the Bible to facts “The Fundamentals” were first published in 1915. They included, among other things:

8 “The Fundamentals” and the Bible Literal virgin birth, certainty of bodily resurrection Divine inspiration of Bible 7 days of creation – rejection of evolution Mosaic authorship of Pentateuch Literal OT authorship (Isaiah, Daniel) Literalism around the devil Literal, personal second-coming Socially, the Bible now carries a lot of this baggage

9 Projection and the Bible Bible takes multiple positions on so many issues, that literal interpretation becomes arbitrary Literal reading often says more about the reader than the writer This is projection We project our opinions, biases, later theology, current events onto Bible and find what we want Sexuality, women, slavery, economics, etc We ask questions of Bible which its writers never conceived of in the ancient world Implies need for careful interpretation

10 Interpretation is Important and Hard To avoid just finding what we want, need to interpret thoughtfully Learn as much as possible the text (language, key words, translations, ties to other texts, etc) Learn as much as possible about context (concerns of original audience, history, cultural issues, etc) Figure out what the authors were trying to say to their intended audience Apply that package to issues today

11 Test Cases: Old Testament & Creation New Testament & Christmas Story

12 The Law Pre-History (pre-1200s) Songs, Sagas, Laws & Treaties (from Babylon, tribal culture, Egypt, Canaan, etc) Oral and written sources 900s Yahwist source (Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel, Babel, Flood (parts), frames much of narrative) 800s Elohist source (Patriarch sagas, Joseph saga) 700s Yahwist/Elohist comb. & editing, Addtl sagas, legends, genealogies, cultic regs, holiness code 600s Portions of Yahwist/Elohist migrate to Deuteronomy 500s Priestly source (7 days, most laws, cultic stuff) 400s Yahwist/Elohist/Priestly comb. & editing, Deuteronomy separated 200s Torah/Law/Pentateuch near final form 90AD Complete Hebrew Bible delimited by Rabbinic Assembly at Jamnia

13 The Prophets 800s Laws, treaties, songs, proto-Deuteronomy 700s Sagas, legends, annals, historical narratives, Isaiah 1-31, Amos, Hoseah, Micah 600s Deuteronomy, first eds. of Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, Jeremiah 1-45, Zephaniah, Nahun, Habakkuk 500s Isaiah 40-55, second eds. of Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, Haggai, Zechariah 1-8 400s Isaiah 32-35, Jeremiah 30-31, Ezekiel 1-37 & 40-48, Joel, Malachi, Obadiah, Jonah 200s Isaiah 24-27, Ezekiel 38-39, Zechariah 9-14, Book of the 12 100s Former and latter prophets 90AD Complete Hebrew Bible delimited by Rabbinic Assembly at Jamnia

14 The Writings 1000s Sagas 900s Aphorisms, numerical sayings, hymns, laments, Thanksgiving songs, royal songs 800s Folktales behind Job 1-2, 42:9-17 700s Proverbs 10-22, 25-29, Egyptian proto-Proverbs 22:17-24 600s Proverbs 22:17-24, Job 3-31, 38-42:6, Midrashes of Kings & Prophets for Chronicles 500s Written sub-collections of some Psalms, more Proverbs, Job complete, Lamentations 300s Psalms complete, Proverbs complete, song of songs, Ruth, Chronicles, Ecclesiastes 100s Esther, Daniel 90 AD Complete Hebrew Bible delimited by rabbinic assembly at Jamnia

15 Notes on Old Testament Little sense of individual authorship in OT (or NT). “Schools” of followers wrote and re-wrote texts Others wrote in the name of schools or individuals to derive credibility Great tension in OT comes between temple and prophets. Temple maintained authority through ritual. Prophets constantly criticized temple for corruption

16 Notes on Old Testament “Exodus Motif” reverberates throughout OT (and NT). It is the primary reference point Israel was dominated by Egypt (perhaps), then threatened by Canaanites, fought among itself, conquered by Assyria, exiled by Babylon, conquered by Alexander, ruled by the Ptolemies, and conquered by Rome, which destroyed the temple and scattered the Jews Stories created in one context were constantly re- written to apply to new contexts

17 Test Case Genesis 1:1-5:32 Creation

18 Two Creation Stories?

19 Genesis 1:1-2:4aGenesis 2:4b-5:32 Creation of lightEarth and heavens Separation of the watersMan (not woman) Land and vegetationGarden Sun, moon, starsTrees, Tree of Life Fish and birdsRiver to other places (that are already created?) Land animals, man and womanAnimals SabbathWoman

20 Genesis 1:1-5:32 Literally, the two stories can’t be reconciled chronologically or theologically or literarily or narratively. Meaning collapses in literal reading Different authorship: Priestly source vs. Yahwist source Different names for God, different vocabulary & style

21 1:1-2:4a – Possible Meaning Before creation earth is formless, dark wasteland and wind swept over waters Creation takes on clear pattern: – “Let there be…”, creation, complete day Very orderly. God is distant, not anthropomorphic Similarities between this story and a Babylonian version, re-done for Israel’s theology Something exists before creation, but it is chaos – similar to Babylonian accounts

22 1:1-2:4a – Possible Meaning Darkness considered to be evil, its origin mysterious God creates through the spoken word – naming something signified power over it Humans are culmination of creation God’s “us”. Difficult to interpret. Divine council? “Image”: God’s representative on earth? Humans created male and female in God’s image adam means humanity in Hebrew God is outside of universe

23 2:4b-5:32 – Possible Meaning Yahwist account. More narrative, less orderly, creation feels more haphazard, less logical Focus on relationships: humans/God, humans/world, humans/humans Not sure what exists before creation Story clearly written from agrarian setting, considering the allusions to farming

24 2:4b-5:32 – Possible Meaning Adam means human. Adamah means soil. Play on words and mixed imagery. Creation of humanity, not a man No concept of soul. God’s breath animates Adam Breath = Ruach. Same word for wind in first story and for spirit later in the OT

25 2:4b-5:32 – Possible Meaning No notion of humans created in God’s image “Eden” means delight. Garden is common image in ancient creation myths. Humans are God’s caretakers in the garden, and must follow Gods’ rules Tree is common feminine fertility symbol in myths. Here tree symbolizes wisdom or hubris It wasn’t an apple

26 2:4b-5:32 – Possible Meaning Woman is crowning event of creation, yet passage has been used to subjugate women. Later readers give strongly misogynist interpretation Use of rib is uncertain, may be legacy of Sumerian mythology Woman is helper, but not subservient. Story seems to explain and validate 10 th century covenantal marriage Finishes with short hymn and divine mandate for sex. Hmm, maybe sex isn’t that bad

27 2:4b-5:32 – Possible Meaning No mention of “sin” or “original sin” in Hebrew. That’s from Augustine Snakes were ancient symbols of wisdom, fertility, immortality. Not seen as the devil here. That is much later interpretation Snake also symbol of Canaanite religion Original source of evil is elusive Story shows connections breaking down

28 2:4b-5:32 – Possible Meaning Snake is half right, God is wrong. Adam & Eve are not put to death, they see good and evil The question is this: Who knows what’s best for the creature, the creator or the creature? Humans refuse responsibility for their error. Adam blames Eve and God. Eve blames serpent God’s love for humanity continues in spite of error “Us” may refer to ancient court of gods Maybe God feared humans would become God-like (See Nephilim later)

29 New Testament

30 When was it Written(ish)? Jesus: 3-33? Paul’s Letters: 51-58 Roman/Jewish War: 66-70 Oral forms of gospels (33-110) Gospel of Mark: 68-73 (set in 33) Rome destroys Jerusalem temple: 70 Gospel of Matthew: 80-90 (set in 33) Luke/Acts: 80-90 (set in 33-58) Gospel of John: 80-110 (set in 33) Revelation: 92-96 (set in 110s) Other Epistles: 70-130 (set in 51-58) Didache: 100-150 Justin Martyr: Mid 2 nd Century Gospel of Thomas: Mid 3 rd Century (set in 33) Late 4 th /early 5 th century, canon assumed closed

31 Relationship of Gospels Mark Luke Oral Tradition Q Tradition Mark Oral Tradition Matthew Oral Tradition John Oral Tradition John Luke Matthew

32 Thoughts on NT Gospel accounts all set around year 33, but not written until decades later Gospels, Acts and Paul’s letters differ substantially on details, chronology, characters, theology We think of Gospel as one story, but is at least four stories Mark, Matthew & Luke are synoptic. John is very different Little of it written in Israel Oral tradition in Aramaic and Greek Written in Greek (which Jesus did not speak)

33 Reading 3 Stories at Once 1.Jesus’ story took place around 33. That’s the story on the surface 2.Gospels written decades later and they completely re-interpret Jesus story for new audiences and new issues 3.Writers consciously using Old Testament themes, theology and stories, and often Greco-Roman theology and philosophy. Helpful to know those stories too

34 Thoughts on Paul Original to Paul (Circa 50s) – Radical Paul – Romans, I Corinthians, II Corinthians, I Thessalonians, Galatians, Philippians, Philemon – Challenges many social conventions of ancient world Disputed (Circa 70-90) – Conservative Paul – Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians – Challenges and reinforces social conventions of ancient world Non-Pauline (Circa 100-120) – Reactionary Paul – I Timothy, II Timothy, Titus – Reinforces many social conventions of ancient world

35 Is the NT Historically Accurate? “…was not composed to record historical remembrances about Jesus” “History” as objective discipline did not exist until 19 th century. Evangelists sought to write gospels, “evangelion” (good news), message of salvation. Goal: Preaching for conversion, identity claims for Jesus, interpreting Jesus stories to Christian community

36 Social Context of NT Tradition of oppression by foreign powers Jewish hierarchy colluded with Roman Empire Honor/Shame Society: Pivotal social value was public reputation. In-group /out-group behavior Collectivistic: Individuals defined by communal identity. No personal relationship with God Kinship defines a person Spirit world: Good/evil spirits everywhere. Human issues had spiritual corollaries

37 Social Context of Text Patron/Client structure: “socially fixed relations of reciprocity between social unequals” Purity: System of meaning that determines behavior as good or deviant. Elaborate rules Hellenistic world Growing apocalypticism in face of Roman occupation Meals very ceremonial and microcosm of life Poor, agrarian

38 Women in NT Property of fathers or husbands Extremely ritually unclean when menstruating Lived private lives in family, no social lives or power outside kinship circle Double standards Jesus treats them in egalitarian way Few are named or speak

39 Relationship to Imperial Rome Rome dominated Mediterranean world Peace through threat of violence Roman soldiers throughout Palestine Heavily taxed Jewish commerce, especially agriculture, reducing people to virtual slaves Used powerful Jews in patron/client structure: appointed Jewish governors and the high priest. Used Jewish men to collect taxes Jews hated the Romans

40 Relationship to Imperial Rome Persecuted some early Christian communities Rome is focus of apocalyptic projection Romans considered emperor to be a God Emperor’s image on all Roman coins, which Jews had to use Before the temple fell, Rome placed statue of emperor in holy of holies ROME DESTROYED HOLIEST JEWISH SITE

41 Relationship to Imperial Rome Rome allowed many religions to thrive in empire. Context was multi-religious, but Rome required subjects to recognize emperor as God Jews did not do this and Rome was suspicious Caesar Augustus was believed to be the son of God who brought peace to the world Christians used many of the titles reserved for Caesar for Jesus. Very inflammatory

42 Theological Context of the Audience Religion inseparable from social, political, economic and psychological life Jesus does not match Messianic expectations Growing apocalyptic expectations Expected Jesus to return very soon Community of Jews, God-Fearers and Gentiles

43 Relationship to Judaism Christianity not distinct from Judaism at that time Jesus not creating a new religion. Fulfilling OT with Kingdom of God Jesus portrayed in prophetic tradition, challenging oppression Jesus challenges Jewish establishment Jesus reaches out to Jews and gentiles

44 Test Case Matthew 1:1-2:23 & Luke 1:1-2:52 The Birth of Christ

45 What is in a Christmas pageant?

46 MatthewLuke Genealogy Conception of John Conception of Jesus Joseph’s Dilemma Mary visits Elizabeth Birth of John Journey to Bethlehem Birth Angels & Shepherds Star, Wise Men, Herod Circumcision Adoration of Magi Presentation in temple Flight into Egypt to Escape Herod’s Plot Slaughter of innocent children Return from Egypt, Move to Nazareth

47 Matthew’s Genealogy Genealogy – Begins with Abraham – All men except for Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, wife of Uriah (Bathsheba), and Mary. What’s unique about these women? No manger, shepherds or any of that Why Bethlehem? Site of David’s Birth. Bethlehem means “bread”

48 The Virgin? Mary is passive character –has no choice in conception. Joseph and the angel drive the story The Septuagint, 3rd century BC Greek translation of Hebrew scriptures translated “young woman” from Hebrew as “Virgin” in Greek. Matthew 1:23 “Look the VIRGIN shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 “Look, the YOUNG WOMAN is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”

49 Wise Guise Wise men are astrologers, learned men from Persia. Chief priest quotes Micah to them to show Bethlehem as the birth place of the Messiah Wise men pay homage to Jesus then avoid Herod Not kings. Doesn’t say there were three

50 A Christmas pageant where all the kids get killed? To avoid Herod, Joseph receives dream and takes family to Egypt Jesus’ journey may symbolize the Jewish people: from Canaan to Egypt and back to Israel Like Moses, Jesus avoids mass killing of Jewish boys Herod is cast as Pharaoh, kills innocent boys Herod’s title was King of the Jews. Matthew subverts that with Jesus title, King of the Jews Angel/dream send family back to Israel and literary trick sends them to Nazareth

51 Jesus’ Birth in Gospel of Luke Zechariah & Elizabeth conceive John late in life Gospel begins right in the temple, the heart of Judaism Miraculous birth echoes Abraham and Sarah and other miraculous OT births John likened to Elijah, whom Jewish tradition said would herald the Kingdom of God

52 Annunciation and Magnificat Mary and Joseph are poor, humble, live in a backwater. Why is messiah born to them? Annunciation foretells the birth “Womb” in Hebrew also means God Magnificat based on Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel Magnificat opens with joy but talks much about conflict with the powerful

53 Nativity No historical precedent for a census of whole world, though regional censes took place. Literary device for getting the family to Bethlehem. May provide contrast with Caesar’s power No issues with Joseph and the pregnancy No donkey Why a manger? A feeding trough. Jesus is nourishment? Humankind has no place for Jesus?

54 Angels and Shepherds Shepherds had little status in society, considered unclean and despised David was a shepherd too Contrast between humble birth and glorious angels Angels announce good news –Evangellion– same word as Gospel Caesar’s titles were Son of God, Lord, Savior or the World, Light of the World. Luke subverts that

55 Comparisons Shared features: – Mary, Joseph & Jesus – Birth in Bethlehem – During reign of Herod the Great – Conception by the Holy Spirit Narrative settings for these events differ significantly Mark and Paul, written earlier, include no mention of extraordinary birth. John lacks one

56 What kind of stories are these? Parables: Jesus told parables about Kingdom of God. Jesus’ followers told parables about him Parable attempts to show things from unexpected angle Birth stories turn Roman and Jewish royal imagery upside down Birth stories place Jesus in long line of God’s miraculous action on behalf of Israel

57 The First Week CountDayMonthDateYearOld TestamentPsalmNew Testament 365SundayApril282013Rest! 364MondayApril292013Genesis1-3Psalm 1Matthew 1 363TuesdayApril302013Genesis 4-6Psalm 2Matthew 2 362WednesdayMay12013Genesis 7-9Psalm 3Matthew 3 361ThursdayMay22013Genesis 10-12Psalm 4Matthew 4 360FridayMay32013Genesis 13-15Psalm 5Matthew 5 359SaturdayMay42013Genesis 16-18Psalm 6Matthew 6


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